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Happy 70th Birthday Holger Czukay!
March 24, 2008 8:19 PM   Subscribe

He was born on March 24, 1938 in Danzig, "the true nephew of William Tell". He studied under Stockhausen from 1963-1966, then threw it all over to help create Can, whose fans included a bemused David Niven. (I Want More. Hunters and Collectors. Moonshake.) You may know him best as a pioneer of the found/stolen/ethno mashup later popularized by Brian Eno and David Byrne. (Cool in the Pool. Persian Love.) But sometimes he just gives us a sweet little pop song. He's the bloody Energizer Bunny of Krautrock. So Happy 70th Birthday, Holger Czukay, you daft and awesome German uncle I never had. (Hey, why not go over to his MySpace page and give him your regards?)
posted by maudlin (33 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yay! Happy 70th, Holger!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2008


Ja, Holger! Herzlichen gluckwunsch!
When I saw Mushroom Head, I was born, and I was dead
posted by not_on_display at 8:33 PM on March 24, 2008


Oh Lord, Give Us More Money.

posted by tighttrousers at 8:45 PM on March 24, 2008


I nominate this as:
The Post With The Coolest Structure--
Combining Whimsy And Depth And History--
For the Calendar Year 2008--
To Date.
Excellence!
posted by Dizzy at 8:50 PM on March 24, 2008


That's how you make a music-related post, kids.

Thanks, maudlin.
posted by jokeefe at 9:32 PM on March 24, 2008


Holy shit, Holger Czukay's 70 years old. I'm not a diehard Krautrock fan (although I am a diehard fan of such diehard Krautrock fans as Nurse With Wound, Current 93, and Legendary Pink Dots), but man, do I love some Holger Czukay. I first discovered him via his ambient collaborations with David Sylvian and then moved forward and backward from there. What an amazing guy. And what a great mustache!
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:35 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's how you make a music-related post, kids.

Thanks, jokeefe, I'll make a note of that!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:44 PM on March 24, 2008


(No pun intended)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:44 PM on March 24, 2008


I dig CAN, always have. It occurs to me now, however, that the term "krautrock" is really pretty tasteless: we don't say chinkpop, wopbop, frogprog, limeysynth, spicsong, or mickpunk, now do we? Just saying.
posted by ornate insect at 9:45 PM on March 24, 2008


the term "krautrock" is really pretty tasteless: we don't say chinkpop, wopbop, frogprog, limeysynth, spicsong, or mickpunk, now do we? Just saying.

The Germans are special. We get to make fun of them. Didn't you get the memo?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:48 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


But if there had been, oh, say, 10 more bands out of France like Magma, then it's conceivable that the term "frogprog" might've come in handy...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:51 PM on March 24, 2008


Magma: they're the ones who invented their own language, right? And I'm confident there were way more than 10 trippy prog bands from France during that era (albeit perhaps not as out there as magma). For some reason, the French always took a special liking to all things prog. Along those lines, although more psychedelic, and worth checking out, is Les Fleurs De Pavot
posted by ornate insect at 10:04 PM on March 24, 2008


Thanks, guys! I actually posted a reminder to myself so I wouldn't miss his birthday, then found myself rushing at the end of the day (and past midnight in Germany. Oh, well.)

I only included "Krautrock" in my post after seeing Czukay's reference to it here:

What happened was, we made several tours through England and suddenly it came up that the British press was aware of several of the other German bands and called it 'krautrock.' I asked an Englishmen 'how can I understand this? What does kraut mean? Is it something positive or negative?' That was a good question because it was something in between. It was not something negative or positive. Maybe 'krauts' come from the Second World War. What was happening in England was that we weren't reguarded as 'krauts' anymore. We were more or less naturalized into England. How this happened was a miracle. We were Germans but we came there several times. The English audience felt that this was something new for them as well. I think it meant to be a good band, to play spontaneous, you must end up in a punk version somehow. You must be delighted about the trash idea. This is what happened here in New York when we played yesterday.

But if we need to invoke frog-prog, there's always Charlebois. (OK, more bar-rock than prog. Lyrics here. Not half bad for the guy who went on to found the brewery that gave us Maudite.)

(I am very proud that I can edumacate flapjax on the fine art of the music-related post. Pay heed, grasshopper.)
posted by maudlin at 10:05 PM on March 24, 2008


that link again: les fleurs des pavot
posted by ornate insect at 10:08 PM on March 24, 2008


the term "krautrock" is really pretty tasteless

Yes. We should all call it by its proper name, Deutschesmuzikdassmanmachstmitgitarrenschlagzeugeundsoweiter.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:18 PM on March 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Home town boy. Happy birthday, Holger.
posted by pracowity at 11:13 PM on March 24, 2008


Argh. Sorry, flapjax; no disrespect intended. I was just, you know, overtaken by enthusiasm.

And while I'm here, Magma! Awesome! Etc.!
posted by jokeefe at 11:37 PM on March 24, 2008


Suzuki, Mooney, Schmidt, Karoli, these were all (relatively) easy enough names to pronounce for us teenage anglophone Can fans back in the 70s. It took me a year's course in German to figure out Liebezeit, and how cool was it that the band had a drummer whose name meant "love time"?

As for Holger, we always pronounced his last name phonetically, "Kazoo - kay". (Wince.) Sooner or later we met some German kids, also Can fans, who assured us it was more like "Choo - kye".

Happy birthday, sir, and thanks for all the Kosmischemusik!
posted by El Brendano at 12:04 AM on March 25, 2008


No sweat, jokeefe!

Here's another 1997 interview with Czukay.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:43 AM on March 25, 2008


oh, Damo Suzuki played in Sydney not long ago, within walking distance from my place.

idiot that i was, i didn't go, thinking "surely, if he's been doing decent work since Can, i would've heard about it...?"

the DJs on the local hipster radio station the next day were saying "Best. Gig. Evah", dammit.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:35 AM on March 25, 2008


Halleluwah! Happy birthday, Holger!

Great post.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:19 AM on March 25, 2008


I love this bloke ! Makes me laugh all the time.

I remember in the early 80's at my mates house watching Music Box (he was a bit rich and the first one to get cable TV) and Holger's video for the Photo song was played all the time. Mad I tell ya !
posted by Webbster at 6:46 AM on March 25, 2008


Great post.

I love Flux + Mutability and Plight and Premonition, Czukay's epic ambient collaborations with the sublime David Sylvian. They're not for everyone -- there's not a backbeat in sight. But they're like aural Tarkovsky, existing on their own time-track, taking as long as they need to unfold, and gorgeous to hear, while haunted by shards of memory and loss.
posted by digaman at 7:55 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


One thing: I don't think Czukay "threw over" Stockhausen to create Can any more than Phil Lesh threw over Luciano Berio to play bass in the Grateful Dead.
posted by digaman at 7:58 AM on March 25, 2008


I bought Movies on the recommendation of Lou Stathis in Heavy Metal (who never actually recommended any heavy metal and never put a foot wrong, musically, despite what it said on the cover - I bought a number of things on his say-so) and never regretted it. It is the most astonishing record, even thirty years later. The Oompah band horn section in Cool in the Pool puts most samplists to shame, I think, and he was doing it by splicing tape, which makes it the musical equivalent of stop-motion animation. Yet it retains the wit and humour of improvisation.

Krautrock (I think the term was coined, or at least appropriated, by Faust in their epic noise-fest of that name) is one of the few cutting-edge movements that's often genuinely funny, which confounds two stereotypes at the same time.

Anyway, yes, Herr Czukay is godlike indeed.
posted by Grangousier at 8:01 AM on March 25, 2008


I like Can. Happy birthday, Holger!
posted by languagehat at 9:53 AM on March 25, 2008


It pleases me that the usual magnificent bastards are Can fans also.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 AM on March 25, 2008


And me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:25 AM on March 25, 2008


Trivia: my tangent for getting into Can was the Fall song, I am Damo Suzuki:

Generous, valeric, jehovahs witness
Stands in cologne marktplatz
Drums come in
When the drums come in fast
Drums to shock, into brass evil

What have you got in that paper bag?
Is it a dose of vitamin c?
Aint got no time for western medicine
I am damo suzuki

The fuck-up like red acid rain
Give it to me daki every day
Who is mr. karlheinz stockhausen?
Introduce me
Im damo suzuki

Soundtracks, soundtracks
Melched together, the lights
The lights above you

Listener was in cahoots with fritz lieber
And read him every day
Recipe for fear gas, amount of salt ash
I put by [cup of] meine fire, okay
I have no time for western medicine
I am damo suzuki

May we go back to days pre-virgin
Cannot get on clear vinyl
The handle that was brass, is now brass evil
The rock that was an egg, is in wrong cradle
The hand that cradles the rock, makes egg gooey
I am damo suzuki

Is this west latent pattern?
Run it, says damos spirit
Is this lesser european?
Speak it, says damos spirit
I am damo suzuki

posted by UbuRoivas at 10:32 AM on March 25, 2008


I love Flux + Mutability and Plight and Premonition, Czukay's epic ambient collaborations with the sublime David Sylvian.

Seconded.

Great post.
posted by homunculus at 11:39 AM on March 25, 2008


flapjax is certainly the James Bond (or is it the Marvin Hamlisch?) of music posts: ”nobody does it better”. But this is an excellent one as well, as jokeefe points out. Thanks, maudlin.

FrogProg is a wonderful phrase I hadn't heard — and like any phrase, probably, in any language, has its own website. (I got sent the Magma album Kohntarkosz 30+ years ago to review, and am still trying to figure it out.) We also touched on Holger and Can, etc. in this Krautrock post a few years ago.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:43 AM on March 25, 2008


Czukay's epic ambient collaborations with the sublime David Sylvian...

...were what led to my discovering Can, as a matter of fact.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:52 PM on March 25, 2008


I laughed my head off the first time I heard Cool In The Pool. Thanks for this.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:56 PM on March 25, 2008


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